The Supreme Court on October 20 directed the Manipur High Court to dispose of sanction issues pending before the high court, preferably within six months, in extrajudicial killing cases. The Supreme Court also allowed interim applications filed by the Union Government pertaining to officers of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) that was entrusted with the investigation of extrajudicial killings in the state pursuant to an order of the apex court in July 2017.
The Union Government seeks to relieve an officer of the SIT, who seeks to voluntarily retire, and to assign additional work to the officers of SIT. The SC allowed both interim applications of the Union Government. The interim application was filed in a writ petition preferred by the Extrajudicial Execution Victim and the Human Rights Alert claiming to have compiled 1,528 alleged extrajudicial executions carried out by the police and security forces in Manipur.
Additional Solicitor General, Aishwarya Bhati, submitted that following the SC direction for the SIT to conduct investigation with respect to three categories of cases, namely, 35 Commissions of Inquiry cases; 37 Judicial inquiry and High Court cases and 23 National Human Rights Commission cases; it has been completed, except in four cases, where the charge-sheets/final reports (18 in numbers) have been filed by the police authorities.
In the four cases, the final report was submitted by the police to whom protest petition was filed by the concerned complainants and pursuant to directions issued by the competent courts, further investigation is still to be conducted.
In view of the completion of the investigation, the Union Government has sought permission to assign additional work to the officers, Bhati stated.
CM Asks Assam Rifles to Vacate MU
Manipur Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren on October 19 appealed to Lt General PC Nair, Director General of Assam Rifles to initiate the process of vacating the Assam Rifles camp from the Manipur University (MU) campus.
Addressing the Northeast seminar organised by Assam Rifles and Manipur University at the City Convention Centre, Palace Compound under the theme “Future Ready Manipur – Looking Beyond Ethnicity & Insurgency”, Chief Minister Biren said that all infrastructure or shifting place required to shift the AR from MU will be provided by the State Government, reports said.
CM Biren said that his government’s commitment, since its formation in 2017, was to make Manipur free from bandhs and blockades with improved law and order while adding that his first priority as a Chief Minister was to bridge the gap between hill and valley and also among various communities. He continued that the Go to Hills mission was introduced to know and understand the grievances of the people residing in hill areas.
Funds sunk in ‘Ghost’ Park in Imphal West
Fund under Atal Mission For Rejuvenation And Urban Transformation (AMRUT) amounting to Rs 6,92,918 inclusive of 10 per cent GST has been allegedly sanctioned for a construction of a ghost park at Kwakeithel Thokchom Leikai under Ward No 8 of IMC in Imphal West.
According to the work order produced before the media at Manipur Press Club in Imphal by a former ward member of Ward No 8, E Chandikumar, the work was granted to a contractor GG Rongmei of Tarung, Imphal West and the tender amount was Rs 8,92,783. Chandrakumar informed the media that there is not a single park at Kwakeithel Thokchom Leikai. It is unfortunate that the sub-contractors working under GG Rongmei have misused the fund which was sanctioned by the government for developmental purposes.
Further, Chandrakumar disclosed that the contract of another work programme for the construction of retaining wall of pond at Nganapi Thong in Imphal West under the 15th Finance Commission 2020-21 amounting to Rs 9,79,491 was also taken by GG Rongmei and he had already received a payment of Rs 9,27,020.
Surprisingly, the only pond at Nganapi Thong already has the retaining wall which was constructed by the former MLA of Keishamthong in 2003 from the Local Area Development Fund, Chandrakumar informed.
Mounted Police Proposed
Mounted police will be introduced in Imphal City which will not only help preserve tradition of forefathers but also promote Manipuri ponies, Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren said on October 19 during the 131st Manipur Police Raising Day celebration held at parade ground of 1st Battalion Manipur Rifles in Imphal.
CM Biren as the chief guest of the raising day celebration said that when Manipur was a Kingdom, Manipuri cavalries played a major role during the war. The present society needs to follow and preserve the contributions that the forefathers of Manipur did to protect Manipur from outside forces, reports said.
The Chief Minister said, “To preserve the Manipuri culture and to promote Manipur ponies, 20 mounted police will be introduced in Imphal City to patrol within the city area. A committee led by IGP Themthing Ngasava has been formed in order to point out police personnel among Manipur police who are fond of horse riding. The government is also planning to introduce more mounted police in other police stations so that Manipuri ponies can be promoted,” reports added.
Congress blasts Govt’s Four Children norm
Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) vice-president Loitongbam Tilotama on October 16 said the Manipur cabinet decision to discontinue government benefits to members of a family having more than four children lacks sensibility and is unconstitutional.
Responding to a query by the media during a press conference at Congress Bhawan in Imphal, Tilotama said, “The decision was vague and the circumstances leading to the government taking the decision are incomprehensible.”
The MPCC vice-president further said that the decision, if enforced with a policy, will be a gross violation of Right to Life and constitutional facilities and provisions. Saying that the State Cabinet took the decision to control the spike in population growth, she urged the government to look into the unchecked infiltration of immigrants instead of focusing on how many children a parent has, reports said.
IPAK Four Children Policy
Objecting to the state cabinet decision to not provide government benefits to families having more than four children, the Indigenous People’s Association of Kangleipak (IPAK) termed the decision as illogical and that it will give serious threat to indigenous communities whose demographic figure will be reduced to a micro level.
IPAK stated in a release on October 16 that India is the second most populated country in the world and is estimated to be the most populated by the next census report. However, in India, the ratio of Meitei population is just 0.09 per cent which can be regarded as a “micro minority community,” IPAK said.
States like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi, the ratio of population in the country is quite high, hence taking up family planning policies for such states is acceptable but it is unreasonable to adopt such policy in Manipur, the release said.
IPAK further said that while the state is facing continuous decrease of ethnic community, illegal immigrants are entering the state unstoppably. So far, one-third of the total population of the state is shared by non-native and amid this situation, taking the decision that limits families to just four children is unfortunate.
“The IPAK assumed the decision of the state cabinet as a hidden agenda to the extinct indigenous population of the state,” the release asserted.
There is a need to increase the indigenous population. Instead of restricting child birth to a certain number, the state government should adopt a family planning policy that concentrates on hiking the number of indigenous people, the release said.
CM Warns People Sheltering Illegal Immigrants
Manipur Chief Minister Nongthobam Biren on October 16 announced that the government will soon conduct house-to-house surveys to crackdown on illegal immigrants as well as migrants once the state population commission is instituted through an ordinance.
The announcement of the Chief Minister came in the wake of over 600 non-locals and foreigners found staying in the state without valid documents and Inner Line Permit (ILP) apprehended in multiple drives by police in the last few days.
Speaking to the media at CM Secretariat in Imphal on October 16 evening, Chief Minister Biren cautioned that actions will be undertaken under the provisions of the Foreigners’ Act and the Inner Line Permit System (ILPS) against the people of the state if they are found sheltering non-locals illegally during the house-to-house survey, reports said.
CM Biren further expressed concern that the illegal residency of a Bangladeshi identified as one Md Anwar Hussain, 54, son of Md Amzad Ali by impersonating as a local since 1990 went unnoticed until he was arrested recently. As informed by the chief minister, the Bangladeshi national had started obtaining a driving license as well as an Aadhaar card.
JCILPS Reiterates for NRC Update
The Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System (JCILPS), Manipur has reiterated its demand for implementing National Register of Citizens (NRC) update in Manipur.
Speaking to the media on October 19 at JCILPS office in Imphal, its convenor Phulindro Konsam appreciated the state government and its machineries for their crackdown on non-locals without proper valid documents. However, he drew the attention of the government to ensure that such drives are sustained to detect illegal immigrants as well as migrants, reports said.
Welcoming the state government’s plan to launch a house-to-house survey with the institution of the state population commission, Phulindro urged the government to set up the population commission at the earliest. He further demanded the government to translate its earlier commitment on submitted memorandum into action over implementation of NRC updatein the state, reports added.
Woman Drug Smuggler Arrested
A woman drug smuggler was arrested near Peace Hospital, Porompat Pangal Leirak in Imphal East at around 6:55 am October 19 by the district commando.
Reports said the arrested person has been identified as one Zarina Begum, 30, wife of Md Mukhtar Nasim of Hafiz Hatta Ittakhola in Imphal East district. From her possession, 10 soap cases containing suspected heroin powder weighing 142 grams were seized.
She revealed that she has been in the trade of smuggling heroin for the last two-three months. She often bought the drugs from one Pepe from Tengoupal and sold to one Bilkis Begum of Hiyangthang, she said, adding that she was to hand over the seized drugs to Bilkis, reports added.
Manipur Deputy Secretary (Law) on October 19 sought, yet again, before the Manipur High Court through advocate general, for another 10 days to bring out an advertisement (notification) for the appointment of Manipur Human Rights Commission (MHRC) chairperson and two members.
Earlier, the division bench of the Manipur High Court had on October 10 given one last opportunity to the State Government to ensure an advertisement be issued for filling up the post of chairperson in the Manipur Human Rights Commission.
Advocate General of Manipur on August 19 placed a record of the letter of October 19 received by him from the Deputy Secretary (Law), Government of Manipur, wherein it is stated that owing to the Commissioner (Law), Government of Manipur, being away from Imphal so as to attend the All India Conference of Law Ministers and Law Secretaries held at Ekta Nagar, Gujarat, the advertisement could not be issued in terms of the time frame fixed by the high court. He further stated that given ten more days’ time, the advertisement would be issued.
After hearing the submission, the High Court adjourned the matter for hearing on November 4.
It may be mentioned that the Manipur High Court was given the opportunity in connection with hearing of the public interest litigation filed by Urikhimbam Nobokishore for directing the State Government and authorities concerned for appointment of the Chairperson and members as mandated under the protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 and also for appointment of the necessary officers and the staffs of the MHRC under Manipur Human Rights Commission Service Rules, 2021.
CM Inaugurates Projects in Senapati District
Manipur Chief Minister Nongtombam Biren on October 21 inaugurated and laid foundation stones of various development projects at Senapati headquarter, and said that, there are plans to develop Senapati comparable to Kohima.
Speaking as the chief guest of a formal function organised by the District Administration, Senapati at the Senapati Public Ground, Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren asserted that the laying of the Synthetic Football Turf at Senapati Public Ground and Indigenous Sports Complex at Maram Khunou are very close to his heart and committed before the public that the two projects will be delivered to the people before the Election Code of Conduct for the 2024 Parliamentary Election, reports said.
The projects include inauguration of Mini Outdoor Stadium at Senapati Public Ground with a project cost of Rs 725.87 lakh under NEC, Sub-Treasury Office, Tadubi, Senapati, Open Gym at Senapati Public ground, UCO Bank, Phaibung Khullen Branch, Model Anganwadi Centre Buildings at Paomata Centre, Senapati and at Rikhumai Taphou, Senapati and laying of foundation stone for construction of Synthetic Football Turf at Senapati Public Ground, District Youth Skilling, Entrepreneurship and Employment Centre, Senapati and Indigenous Sports Complex at Maram Khunou, reports added.
1.243 Kg Gold Seized At Imphal Airport
Anti-Smuggling Unit, Customs Division, Imphal has arrested an illegal gold smuggler and recovered 1.243 kg of gold from his rectum at Imphal International Airport on October 20. The arrested person has been identified as one Md Abir Khan, 38, son of Md Mahajar resident of Keirao Makting Menjor Ingkhol, Keirao Bitra Sub-division of Imphal East.
In a release issued by the Deputy Commissioner, Custom Division Imphal, Keerthishri S mentioned that acting on information a team of Anti-Smuggling Unit, Customs Division, Imphal led by superintendent (A/S) intercepted Abir and detained him at Imphal International airport. The team checked Abir thoroughly and eventually, four oval shaped packets of gold in paste form, weighing 1.243 kg, were recovered from his rectum.
Abir was intercepted by the custom division team in the departure hall of the airport while boarding Air India Flight number A1890 scheduled to depart from Imphal at 2:20 pm. The net weight of the extracted gold is found to be 1.137 kg and its value was estimated at Rs 57,73,686, the release added.
Cong Rejects Govt’s Lifting Prohibition Ban
Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) has rejected the State Government’s vindication of lifting prohibition on liquor in the State as hogwash.
Speaking to media persons at Congress Bhavan in Imphal on October 20, MPCC vice-president Hareshwar Goswami remarked that September 20 on which the State Cabinet resolved to partially lift the Manipur Liquor Prohibition Act, 1991 can be seen as a black day if one takes into account the State’s decades long fight against alcoholism and drug abuse.
The anti-liquor movement started at Kakching after a woman who went to call her husband from liquor point was physically assaulted by the vendors on December 30, 1975.
Following incidents of murder and immolation of women by their own husbands who were alcoholics at Imphal areas, the Nupi Samaj called a State-wide bandh on April 2, 1980 and launched a sustained movement against abuse of liquor, Hareshwar said.
Subsequently, the State Government headed by Chief Minister RK Ranbir passed the Manipur Liquor Prohibition Act 1991 and liquor was prohibited in the State. With little regard for the sustained anti-liquor movement spearheaded by womenfolk, the State Cabinet recently adopted a decision to legalise liquor in the State. The particular Cabinet decision was driven by an intention to earn revenue and it has nothing to do with public health concerns, the MPCC vice-president said.
When the Manipur Liquor Prohibition 2nd Amendment Bill was tabled in the State Assembly in 2018, the BJP Government asserted that the State could earn Rs 352 crore annually from liquor taxes. The Government reiterated the same point when the Bill’s Select Committee tabled its report.
Given these antecedents, the Government’s claim that legalisation of liquor has nothing to do with earning revenue is totally false, Hareshwar said.
Further, the draft Manipur Liquor Regulation Policy produced by the State Government mentions that legalisation of liquor is aimed at generating employment and introduction of new welfare schemes for youth and women, he pointed out.
When the Congress party was in power, several welfare schemes were launched for women and children but not by legalising liquor, the MCC vice-president asserted.
Quoting a WHO report, Hareshwar said that alcohol kills around 3 lakh people in a year. In the wake of the stiff opposition raised by many sections of the people against the move to legalise liquor, the Government brought out many issues which they neglected till recently just to divert public attention. While working consistently to ban beef in the country, BJP has been scheming to ensure accessibility of liquor to all the people, he said.
Reacting to the claims of BJP Ministers and MLAs that there is no place on earth where liquor is still prohibited, Hareshwar asserted that prohibition is still in force in different places of the world including many States of the USA.
Maintaining that there is no money in the State’s exchequer and the Government is unable to pay employees’ arrears and pensioners’ pension, the MPCC vice-president asserted that the Government took up the initiative to legalise liquor so as to meet these financial requirements out of the revenue earned from legalising liquor.
Morning Bell Sub-Editor Laishram Reagan Passes Away
Laishram Reagan, Sub-Editor of The Morning Bell daily breathed his last at Raj Medicity on October 19 following a brief illness. He is survived by his wife and a daughter.
Reagan who hailed from Khurai Lairikyengbam Leikai, Imphal East was a calm, honest and well disciplined staff of the newspaper. The Morning Bell prayed for the departed soul to rest in peace in the heavenly abode. The management and staff of The Morning Bell deeply mourned the sudden demise of Laishram Reagan who breathed his last at Raj Medicity after a brief illness, The Morning Bell published.
Meanwhile, All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union (AMWJU) expressed deep grief at the sudden demise of Laishram Reagan. A condolence meeting was held at Manipur Press Club on October 20 with AMWJU President Wangkhemcha Shamjai presiding over it. Members present at the meeting observed a two-minute silence as a mark of respect to the departed soul. The meeting recalled the contributions made by Reagan during his stint as a journalist. It also observed that his demise is a great loss to the media fraternity of the State. AMWJU shared the sorrow of the bereaved family, his friends and dear ones.